I was playing bass in a few bands and thought I’d see if anyone had ever posted anything about me online. Googled my name and “bass” and lo and behold, there’s some guy named Joel Canfield, a bass player somewhere in Michigan.
That’s the day I started using my middle initial D. (It’s for David, and no, I have no idea why my parents gave me two Hebrew Bible names, especially considering my siblings each have two Celtic names.) My introduction at business mixers was “If it doesn’t have the D it isn’t really me.” So, it’s Joel D Canfield, because I need the D but didn’t want the period because I’m an artist and I have my affectations and it’s my name fer cryin’ out loud.
The following is an excerpt from my Irish mystery novel, Into the Fog, a sequel to Through the Fog.
“Niall; Fearghal. Step in side and have a whiskey.” The look on their faces was almost worth the days that came after.
“Told you he was here.”
“You also said he wasn’t a fool. You’re one for two, Niall.”
Niall glared at his older, larger (but, shall we say, less intellectual?) brother and moved toward the front step. “I’ve given up whiskey entirely, Martin, but a cup of something hot wouldn’t go amiss.” I had to step back inside to make room in the doorway for them to come in.
Fearghal O’ Quinn wasn’t quite tall enough to duck as he came through, but he filled a normal sized room well enough. Niall, not as tall and not as broad, always seemed restless, as if he were anticipating a surprise he wasn’t going to like.
Niall jostled Fearghal. “Get in, get in; my backside’s hanging out the door.” Stepping around his brother, he stopped cold.
It was good to be back in Ireland. My annual trips to Sligo had not only helped my understanding of the ancient language of the land, but given me an almost native comprehension of the modern as well.
It was a warm morning for Sligo; the sea breeze was usually cooler this time of year. Doesn’t matter; I’ll just lay here a bit longer; eyes closed, pondering the first cup of tea like you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Milk, not cream; no sugar, please.
The pain in my temple made me shoot upright in bed, which not only made the pain worse, but confused me immensely—there was no reason I should be in Sligo right now; the first glimpse of the room confirmed that, indeed, I was not.
I should, in fact, have been on the floor of the shed outside this house, not lying in my underwear in a feather bed in an upstairs bedroom.
Memory; that’s it, I’ve been having trouble with my memory.
An excerpt from my book, “Through the Fog: An Irish Advenure”. It is available at Amazon.
Wednesdays we’ll be posting excerpts of Joel’s writings. Today’s excerpt is from Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box.
Connect with an accountability mentor. You have friends and professional acquaintances who’d be delighted if you asked them to help you get your book done. A couple points on choosing them:
1. They need to believe. Somebody once started the lie that having someone tell you you’ll never succeed would inspire you to prove them wrong. Wrong. You do not need a troll, you need a rabid cheerleader who’ll make you believe when you forget to.
We’ve arranged with our local library to present in person “Taking the Pain & Mystery Out of Becoming a Writer”. Date: Saturday, January 18, 2014 Time: 2:00 pm CST to 3:30 pm CST Where: Rice Lake Public Library, Friendship Room, 2 E. Marshall Street
The foamy salty sea has an attraction
For vagabonds and every sort of rogue
Whose only thought’s their selfish satisfaction
‘mongst pirates, bad manners are in vogue
But I’m here to tell the tale of the exception
About a man with manners through and through
He’d not resort to threats or vile deception
The politest pirate, Paddy McEldoo
He’d the fiercest crew the seas have ever seen,
And neatly piled doubloons down in the hold
He’d shout to quaking captains frightened green,
“If you’d be so good enough
Please give us all your gold”
His crew all thought him mad as a hatter
When he told them of his childhood raison d’être
His mother’s voice say’ng “Paddy, manners matter,
Manners get what rudeness doesn’t get ya”
Now it saddens me to have to tell you how
The politest pirate met his Waterloo
A crafty shipping merchant knew that now
’twas time to emulate the wise Sun Tzu
When Paddy spoke so mannerly once more
And let the merchant know what he should do
This crafty captain took the art of war
Saying “Please sir, I insist—after you!”
(a sigh, then, spoken)
“Neatly, men; neatly! A place for every doubloon, and every doubloon in its place.”
he youngest smallest smartest kid in my High School classes was tough. In the middle of 1st grade, they moved me to 2nd grade in the little 2-room country school I attended.
Volga and Range both had 2-room school houses, with 1st through 3rd in one room, 4th through 6th in the other. About 10 kids in each grade; 60 total in the school. We moved in after the school year started so I had the last seat in the 1st graders. When I was promoted, I didn’t even have to move my desk, I was just the first seat in the 2nd graders.
ongwriter friend Charlie Cheney keeps telling me that song lyrics should lean heavily on nouns. Show, don’t tell. Pack the song with people doing things in places with stuff, instead of talking about feelings and interior monologues and all those abstracts.
A handful of years ago, Charlie and a group of friends wrote a song which was nothing but nouns. It didn’t make much sense, but it sure had nouns.
fter repeated listenings to Cream’s Born Under a Bad Sign a few years ago I went to my music room to play around on my bass. Rather than trying to copy Jack Bruce’s bass line, I played what it made me feel like.
Speeding it up a little and moving down and back up a few times, all I needed was a brief refrain at the end, a turnaround between verses, and it felt complete.
A rockabilly shuffle on the drums is loads of fun, but it’s hard to keep up if you’re not practicing regularly. The drums seem to have survived most of this trip.
When you commit to writing 14 songs in 28 days there’s a bit of a time constraint. When I started recording the springy lead guitar I realised that, though it was recording, it wasn’t coming out of the amp, and it wasn’t coming through the computer to my headphones. I could hear a tinny little noise straight off the strings on my Stratocaster, but even that was muffled by the headphones.
Knowing I could do it over, I soldiered on.
I didn’t do it over. This is what I sound like playing lead guitar when I can’t hear myself. Maybe I should try it more often.
Blues without harmonica seemed wrong. Then the piano started complaining about being left out.
I’ve written a handful of short verses which I might record some day, but if Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust can survive as an instrumental for more than a decade, this one will be okay.
ebruary Album Writing Month is officially over for 2009. And I officially won.
Which means I wrote or co-wrote at least 14 songs during the 28 days of February. (You’ll see on my FAWM profile that it lists 19; it’s actually only 18 because one is listed twice but I don’t want to lose the comments on my original post.)
This year I discovered the double harmonic scale, which makes everything you play sound all Arabian Night-ish. I wrote two Arabic-sounding songs (my most ambitious musical endeavours to date) and collaborated on another.
I wrote a German drinking song. In German.
I wrote a Mexican dance song. In Spanish.
I played a jazz guitar improvisation, my first guitar improvisation ever.
I did my first FAWM music video.
I also did, as I have every year, some country, some folk, and some swingabilly.
nd speaking of the ubiquity of independent music, I’ve teamed up with 13 fellow singer/songwriters I met at FAWM and we’ve just released Handmade & Homespun—Premium Quality Americana.
Handmade & Homespun is a collection of 14 songs by 14 artists covering slices of Americana from almost traditional folk tunes to fairly assertive rock with stops nearly everywhere in between.
In February of 2008 we all met in the website forums of February Album Writing Month. FAWM has fostered our songwriting immensely (thanks, Burr!) and we wanted a way to celebrate how good it feels to actually accomplish something musically.
Every year, FAWM issues an official compilation which rather than a ‘best of’ is more of a snapshot of what happened (the compilation team considers themselves more akin to museum curators than disk jockeys.) Listening to some of the stunning demos posted, I was compelled to do something more personal; something I could nurture and guide. Although it’s not an official FAWM compilation, the 14 of us credit FAWM for bringing us together and helping us to have a way share.
During the eleven-and-a-half months it took to go from concept to completion, we met roadblocks, of course. Some artists disappeared; others had scheduling conflicts; still others had obligations to other band members to put their original projects ahead of this. Some songs were pulled by their writers and replaced by others; we songwriters are often as cautious about our songs as we are with our children.
In the end, this is, perhaps, less than it could have been. It is, however, more than we ever imagined, and that’s good enough.